Must-Read: David Roberts: Jon Chait Wrote an Optimistic Take on Climate Change. Is it justified?

Must-Read: I guess I must be more optimistic than David Roberts–I still think the odds are favorable that we will learn how to manage our climate before we have had 100,000,000 unnecessary and avoidable premature deaths from global warming:

David Roberts: Jon Chait Wrote an Optimistic Take on Climate Change. Is it justified?: “my favorite part is Chait’s straight talk…

…about the Republican Party:

The entire world is, in essence, tiptoeing gingerly around the unhinged second-largest political party in the world’s second-largest greenhouse-gas emitter, in hopes of saving the world behind its back.

Well put! And he calls climate denialism “a regional quirk in the most powerful country on Earth,” which captures both the absurdity and danger of it….

Chait’s optimisms decline in plausibility as the piece goes along. Technological innovation: 8…. US policy progress: 7…. International political progress: 6…. China political progress: 5. Chait is right to mock Republicans for saying that US action won’t make any difference because China won’t reciprocate–and then ignoring or dismissing it when China reciprocates. In fact, China is dumping enormous resources into clean energy and placing increasingly stringent limits on coal…. Developing country progress: 4….

The gaping hole in Chait’s piece? He has written the grassroots climate movement(s) out of existence. All he says about environmentalists is that they ‘sank into despair’ after the cap-and-trade bill failed…. It’s not just ‘environmentalists’ now–the climate justice movement is far broader than that and includes many other constituencies. And they did not sink into despair when the cap-and-trade bill (which they hated) died, they organized. Chait may not like the fact that the movement rallied around Keystone XL, but rally it did. And it’s beyond absurd that Chait mentions the closing of hundreds of coal plants in the US without mentioning the grassroots Beyond Coal movement…. Chait has always had a beef with the left activists in general and climate activists specifically… a bit personal… distorted his otherwise typically lucid political analysis…. It’s a little crazy to write about humanity getting serious about saving itself without even mentioning the growing grassroots movement that has dedicated itself to doing just that….

Overall optimism verdict: 7…. The status quo trajectory still leads to disaster. But… for the first time in my lifetime, it looks like it might be real fight.

September 14, 2015

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